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Misty C. Thomas, Esq. | Executive Director

Elisa M. Ortiz | Deputy Director  

Jennifer Ubiera, Esq. | Senior Policy Counsel  

Danielle M. Burs, Esq. | Senior Policy Counsel  

Casey M. Anderson | Senior Policy Manager 

Sarah A. Baczewski Director of Development  

Sharon L. Terrill | Operations Manager  

James P. Tuite, Esq. | Senior Advisor  

Morgan B. GrizzleOpen Horizon Criminal Justice Fellow  

Gene S. Downing | Galena Yorktown Fellow  

 Staff Bios


CASEY M. ANDERSON. As the Senior Policy Manager, Ms. Anderson is responsible for developing, managing, and implementing CCE's comprehensive and strategic communications strategy, as well as supporting the development and implementation of CCE’s diverse public education and policy initiatives. She also serves as the staff leader for the Criminal Justice committee. Before joining CCE, Ms. Anderson worked as a Program Associate for The Sentencing Project, where she worked with the research, communications, and advocacy teams on a range of projects. She assisted with research and writing for publications, wrote content for newsletters, and managed social media. Additionally, Ms. Anderson interned with CURE National and supported the ReThink Justice D.C. coalition's with their successful campaign to end the privatization of one of D.C.’s jails. She also participated in Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature, & Leadership, a univeristy program where students and incarcerated youth read and analyze Russian literature. Ms. Anderson received her undergraduate degree in Global Studies with a concentration in Security and Justice from The University of Virginia.

SARAH A. BACZEWSKIAs the Director of Development, Ms. Baczewski leads the full range of CCE's fundraising and development efforts.  Prior to joining CCE, Ms. Baczewski spent three years with environmental nonprofit Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) where she served as the Office & Development Manager, handling operations, finances, strategic planning, event coordination and fund development.  Ms. Baczewski’s transition to the nonprofit space in 2018 followed a 12+ year career in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, working for Japanese/U.S. production companies Akatsuki Entertainment and ANEW USA, producer Sandy Climan at Entertainment Media Ventures (EMV) and talent/literary manager Barry Krost Management (BKM). She holds a B.A. from Whitman College and a Certificate of Completion from The Seattle Film Institute.  

DANIELLE M. BURS. As Senior Policy Counsel, Ms. Burs advocates for policies that can improve D.C.’s legal systems which she develops with the CCE Civil Justice Committee through collaborating with stakeholders, designing and conducting research, performing data collection and analysis, and issuing reports. Prior to joining CCE, Ms. Burs was Counsel at the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. There, Ms. Burs provided research, analysis, and project management for COVID-19, affordable housing, HIV/AIDS, Anacostia watershed and river restoration, CareFirst reform, attorney general, paid leave, and D.C. democracy projects. Ms. Burs has also been an associate at Goldblatt Martin Pozen LLP, Legislative Director for Ward One Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau, Director of Policy at the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, and JD Distinguished Fellow at affordable housing developer Manna, Inc. She currently serves on the boards of Mi Casa, Inc. and River East Design Collaborative. Ms. Burs received her BA in English and Government from Clark University and her JD from Washington College of Law at American University. She is barred in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

GENE S. DOWNING. As the Galena Yorktown Fellow, Mr. Downing co-leads the Second Chance Hiring Alliance. In addition to his work with the Alliance, Mr. Downing develops and executes strategies for distribution of CCE publications, and helps CCE to facilitate community events, engaging a more diverse group of residents and organizations. Before joining CCE, Mr. Downing served as Congressman John Lewis Fellow at Free Minds Book Club and Writing workshop where he co-facilitated community outreach programs, such as OTSP (On the Same Page). He continues to serve as a Poet Ambassador and is Co-Chair of “Thrive Under 25”, a transformative coalition in the District of Columbia that uses advocacy, legislation, and public education to end the racist, damaging, and punitive responses of D.C.’s adult criminal legal system toward people who encountered the system when they were under age 25. Mr. Downing is passionate about giving back to the youth and building up the D.C. community.


MORGAN B. GRIZZLE. As the 2023-2024 Open Horizon Criminal Justice Fellow, Ms. Grizzle will work with justice system stakeholders to develop policy to improve the function of DC’s criminal legal system. Ms. Grizzle is a 2023 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center. She was active in several of Georgetown’s student organizations, serving as the Black Law Students Association’s Recruitment and Retention Chair, the Women of Color Collective’s Programming Director, and LawCappella’s President and Social Media Chair. During law school she interned with Brady, The Bail Project, and the ACLU of DC. Ms. Grizzle holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. She also holds a B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park.


ELISA M. ORTIZ. As the Deputy Director, Ms. Ortiz manages CCE’s research, policy, advocacy, and education work, coaches staff members, leads the development of organizational systems and processes, and works with the Executive Director on overall management issues. Prior to joining CCE, Ms. Ortiz was the Chief of Staff of the Politics and Policy Department at RepresentUs, an organization fighting political corruption, working to reform American democracy, and pushing back against authoritarianism. In that role, she managed a large team of political operatives, developed systems and processes to facilitate their work, and led the development and operations of several programs including a vote by mail state advocacy program and a Campaign Accelerator, which provided monetary and in-kind support to nascent democracy campaigns around the country. In the past, she's worked on a very diverse set of social and racial justice issues including criminal justice reform, ending the school to prison pipeline, eliminating judicial elections, immigration issues, transportation equity, tobacco control, and reproductive rights. Ms. Ortiz received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration from Utica University (fka Utica College of Syracuse University).


SHARON L. TERRILL. As Operations Manager, Ms. Terrill works closely with staff, bookkeeper and auditor, vendors, and Board of Directors to effectively carry out daily operations and office management for CCE. She also handles database and records management, event logistics, and provides communications support. Ms. Terrill’s background is primarily in finance and administrative work. Prior to joining CCE, she worked as Chief of Staff for a fintech startup, and as a Program Specialist for the American Bar Association’s Center for Public Interest Law. Ms. Terrill has an AAS in Accounting from Baltimore City Community College, and is earning her Bachelors of Science in Accounting with a minor in Business Administration from UMGC.



MISTY C. THOMAS. Ms. Thomas joined CCE in 2018 as Executive Director. Ms. Thomas brings her years of experience representing indigent clients in both civil and criminal matters in the District and directing two legal reform non-profit organizations to further CCE’s vital mission to enhance D.C.’s justice system and ensure that all people who rely on our courts and government are served fairly and effectively.

Prior to joining CCE, Ms. Thomas served as the Director of the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Due Process Review Project, which focuses on research, education, and policy advocacy related to capital punishment and other criminal justice issues. She previously was a senior Affordable Housing Initiative attorney at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, where she represented homeless individuals and low-income tenants in cases to preserve their access to housing or shelter, and advocated to government agencies for more effective affordable housing laws and regulations in the District. Ms. Thomas also worked at Howrey LLP as the firm’s Pro Bono Fellowwhere she represented indigent clients in a wide range of criminal and civil cases and supported the pro bono practices of other lawyers at the firm. Prior to law school, she served as the inaugural Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which works to correct and prevent the wrongful conviction of innocent people in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Ms. Thomas holds a B.A., cum laude, from Claremont McKenna College, and a J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar and where she has taught as an adjunct professor of law. 

JAMES P. TUITE. As Senior Advisor, Mr. Tuite provides strategic and substantive guidance and support to CCE’s leadership team. For nearly 45 years, Mr. Tuite practiced law in the District of Columbia, initially with the federal government and then with two private law firms. Begore retiring in 2017, he practiced complex commercial litigation, representing clients in federal and state court trials and appeals and before federal and state agencies. Mr. Tuite is a long-time Civic Director and a former Executive Committee member of CCE. He is a member of CCE’s Civil Justice and Justice Education Committees and has worked on a range of CCE projects, including assessments of the District of Columbia’s Office of Administrative Hearings, the District’s Department of Behavioral Health, and the District’s criminal justice system’s interactions with persons who have substance use disorders. He also chaired the Steering Committee responsible for producing CCE’s community guide: When Adults Need Help Making Decisions and Managing Daily Affairs: A Non-Lawyer’s Guide to D.C.’s Legal Tools for Assisting Adults. Mr. Tuite is a graduate of Duke University and the University of Texas School of Law.

JENNIFER UBIERA. As Senior Policy Counsel, Ms. Ubiera collaborates with stakeholders, designs and conducts research, performs data collection and analysis, and issues reports to inform public policy and advocate for changes to D.C.’s legal systems. Ms. Ubiera staffs CCE’s Youth Justice and Justice Education committees. Prior to joining CCE, Ms. Ubiera was the Organizing and Advocacy Fellow at the Georgetown Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative at the Georgetown University Law Center. There, Ms. Ubiera represented youth accused of committing delinquent acts and organized local coalitions to advocate for solutions to issues in the youth justice landscape. Ms. Ubiera is a member of Law 4 Black Lives DC where she provides jail support for community members, including youth protesters, and facilitates popular education workshops at the intersection of law, race, and identity. Ms. Ubiera holds an LL.M. in Advocacy from Georgetown Law, a J.D. from Barry University School of Law, and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of South Florida. 

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